Coffee makers and drinkers know that the grind size of the coffee beans makes all the difference with each brewing method.
Everyone loves their coffee differently and enjoys various kinds of flavors. Whatever style you choose is influenced by the grind size of the beans.
By grind size, we mean how big or small the ground coffee is. This size determines the rate at which the ground beans will be dissolved in water and how well the flavors will be released.
When settling on a brewing method, you want to ensure that the grind size is perfect. The coffee won’t just turn out right if you don’t.
So, a lot depends on the size of your coffee grind. Because of the many flavors of coffee, the kind of grind can affect its taste.
That’s why coffee can turn out sour or bitter when you desire something sweet and chocolatey.
The levels of acidity, sourness, bitterness and even aromatic flavor can be influenced by how fine or coarse the coffee grind is. We want to look at these two coffee grinds: coarse vs. fine coffee.
Or, you can call them the two extremes of coffee grinds. We use the term “two extremes” because there are lots of in-betweens. But our concern is on the fine and coarse grind of coffee.
Without going into the finer details, you already know that finely ground coffee will mean more extractable flavors in a faster time.
However, you also know that the finer the grind, the more time it takes for water to filter through the grounds. The longer it takes to filter, the more bitter it is.
So, you see, you want to avoid getting it too fine or too coarse sometimes.
That’s why we’ll be looking at the two kinds of grind sizes and reviewing the taste of each one, the pros and cons of each grind size, and which one we think is better for you.
Remember, the kind of grind size depends on the brewing method you choose.
And just as we noted earlier, there are not just two types of grind size, although they fall under the two extremes of coarse and fine.
However, there are different variations of coarse and fine. Let’s look at them.
Types of Coffee Grinds Sizes
There are two main types of coffee grind sizes. They are
- Coarse Grind size
- Fine Grind size
Grind size influences three things in coffee brewing. They are the extraction time, the rate of extraction, and the flow rate.
The finer the ground, the larger the surface area and the faster the extraction rate. That means faster brewing methods should involve finer coffee grinds.
Coffee brews that involve longer contact time need coarser grinds. Under each type, there are different levels of grind as well:
Coarse Coffee Grind
- Extra Coarse Grind: A coffee ground roughly the size of sea salt. Its large size means it would have a long-brewing time.
- Medium-Coarse Grind: This refers to coffee beans ground to roughly the size of large grains of sand. This would also require a long-brewing time because of the size, although it would take a shorter time than with extra-coarse coffee.
- Medium grind: This is the closest the coarse grind gets to the fine grind. It’s coffee beans ground to the size of regular beach sand. Fine, but still coarse enough to allow water to seep slowly. It’s the meeting point between coarse and fine coffee.
Finely Ground Coffee
- Extra-fine grind: with such consistency as fine as flour.
- Medium-fine grind: This is the medium of fine grinds and is ideal for drip or pour-over coffee.
- Fine grind: which we can refer to as the standard coffee size we are all familiar with. Of course, this type of coffee has such a short brewing time before it extracts all its flavors. Hot, pressurized water is forced through fine grinds of coffee to produce great flavors in such a short time.
As we said earlier, all these grind sizes come with their preferred brewing method, which also determines the kind of flavor and acidity you get from your coffee.
Let’s look at coarse vs. fine coffee types of grind and the brew that fits perfectly.
- Drip Coffee Maker: Coarse grind
- Espresso Machine: Fine grind
- French Press: Medium-Coarse grind
- Pour-Over Coffee: Medium-coarse grind
- Siphon Coffee Maker: Medium grind
- Turkish Coffee: Extra fine grind
- Cold Brew Coffee: Extra Coarse
- Flat Bottom Drip Coffee Machines: Medium grind
- Aeropress (with 2-3 minute brew time): Medium fine
Let’s now look at coarse vs. fine coffee types in greater detail.
What is Coarse Coffee?
The coarse grind of coffee, just like its name, refers to coffee beans that are grounded so that the bean particles are still fairly large.
This means that the water may not extract as much flavor and is expected to be less bitter than finer grounds. This size grind is ideal for French press brewing.
There are different types of coarse coffee, as indicated earlier. And they include extra-coarse, coarse, and medium-coarse.
While medium-coarse has a consistency of beach sand, coarse coffee resembles kosher salt in consistency, while extra coarse coffee looks more like sea salt in consistency.
- Coarse coffee produces a less bitter taste.
- It is easier to produce as it requires less machinery or energy
- Coarser grinds need a longer time to roast to release the flavors
- Produces under-extracted coffee many times
How Does Coarse Coffee Taste?
We assume you’re using the proper brewing method. Generally speaking, the coarser the coffee, the less the flavor and the less bitter the taste.
This is because the coarser the coffee, the less extracted it is.
What is a Fine Coffee?
Fine coffee grind is the standard size of coffee that we know, and it refers to coffee beans that are grounded finely enough to pick up as much flavor in a short time of brewing.
The fine grind of coffee has a smooth powdery texture such that with hot water, it can release lots of flavors due to its large surface area.
- Finer grinds need a shorter time to roast to release the flavors
- It can be used to make lots of exotic coffee drinks like Cappuccinos and Lattes
- It produces stronger cups and richer flavors
- Has a greater restriction on brewing methods
- Requires higher energy (temperature and pressure) to produce the perfect cup
When using the proper brewing methods, fine coffee tastes strong and has more flavors. Fine coffee grinds take a longer time to extract than coarse ground coffee.
This is because it has a larger surface area. This makes it produce a stronger taste and releases more flavor.
Why Choose Coarse Over Fine Grind?
There’s no metric for deciding which grind of the coffee is better. There is always that perfect grind that fits the type of coffee you want.
And if your coffee tastes different from what you want, you may decide to alter the grind. For example, if your cup doesn’t give you the strong taste and rich flavor you desire, you may have left the beans too coarse.
That means you should grind it finer next time. Beware though: Too fine, and it may become too strong for your liking. It may taste too bitter as well.
But since there are different types of coffee flavors, and each brewing method has its different time of extraction, let’s look at the best times to choose coarse over fine grind.
A perfect example would be with cold brew. Since cold brew is fine at (or even below) room temperature, it has a low extraction rate and long extraction time.
A coarse coffee grind is an ideal grind for cold brew. That doesn’t mean fine grinds can’t work with cold brew, but the difference would be clear.
First, the time would be shorter, but the taste would be stronger, and the appearance would be more cloudy because it is more difficult to filter.
Another instance when a coarse coffee grind is recommended is with the French Press. French Press is an immersion brewer and adds water to the coffee grounds allowing it to steep for some moments before sieving out the grains.
Again, to get the best results with French Press, you need coarse coffee. If you use fine coffee, you will not be able to allow it steep for the required time, and it will also be difficult to filter. Again, the brew would be too strong and noticeably bitter.
You’ll use a medium to coarse coffee grind when brewing Drip coffee as well. Drip coffee is made by drilling a small hole in a brewing basket.
To get the best results, the coffee should have about a medium level of coarseness but shouldn’t be extra-coarse, nor should it be finely ground.
Another instance when the coarse grind is ideal is with the stovetop espresso maker or Moka pot which uses steam pressure to force water to pass through a filter basket of coffee grounds.
Although it has a short contact time, which will suggest finely ground coffee, the pressure with which it forces its way through the basket means it would require something a bit coarser than the fine grounds.
Use a medium grind size to get the best results. Too fine, and you may have too strong a cup. But why not?
You will have very weak and bland-tasting coffee if it’s not fine enough. Turkish coffee, for example, requires extra-fine grounds to produce the perfect cup and the right flavor.
However, methods that require very little contact time, like pour-over, Aeropress, and expresso, often need different varieties of finely ground coffee.
Which One is Better for Me?
Your goal in choosing a grind size is to extract just the right amount of flavor from your coffee.
If you do not extract it well enough, you won’t get the right amount of flavor, which may turn out sour, acidic, or salty. If you extract it too much, you’ll get too much flavor. This also affects the taste, as it would turn out bitter without any unique flavors.
So, it depends on what you want. The rule is that the finer the grounds, the shorter the time needed for extraction, and the stronger the flavors.
However, the most important determinant is the brewing method you want to use as well as the temperature of the water.
Sometimes, your coffee grind size is perfect, but you have used the wrong temperature for the wrong duration.
There is no “regular” grind for coffee as the recommended grind for an expresso (fine) is different from that of cold brew or French Press (coarse)
Depending on the type of coffee you’re trying to make, the grind size will impact how it tastes at the end of the day.
If you grind it too coarse or too fine, you may get under-extracted or over-extracted coffee.
Because you use water to brew your coffee, you don’t want the beans to be grounded in a way that alters the flavor, acidity, and taste.
How finely or coarsely your coffee is ground determines how your coffee turns out. Depending on the type of brewing method you prefer, getting the grind size wrong will change the flavor of your coffee.
We’ve looked at coarse vs. fine coffee to determine which grind would do for different types of brew. We know that when the beans are too finely ground, they will be under-extracted.
Last Updated on October 5, 2022 by Ashok Parmar